Congratulations on your new yacht! Before you set sail on your first seafaring adventure, it’s vital that you understand not only how your vessel works, but also the basics of yacht ownership. Here are 10 tips for new yachters, to ensure you’re prepared for the before, during, and after sections of your voyage.
1. Have a beyond-basic knowledge of your craft.
Even if you’ve got a captain and crew to handle the daily components of steering and docking your yacht, it’s essential that you be able to take over in case of emergency. That means having a working knowledge of navigational equipment, steering, maneuvering the sails, docking, and boat traffic rules and safety, among other skills.
2. Create a yacht launch checklist.
A checklist will help reduce preventable mistakes, ensure a safer trip, decrease interruptions, and increase the chances that everyone will have a great time.
Although your list will vary based on the type of vessel, how long you’ll be on the water, and how frequently you get your yacht’s maintenance done, consider things like:
- Provisions: Fuel, gas, food, and water
- Safety and function checks: Engine, generator, sails, deck, safety gear
- Disconnecting shore electrics
- Hazard clearances
- Roles and responsibilities
- Up-to-date charts
- Crew safety briefing
- Fishing gear
Find a sample yacht launch checklist online and modify it as needed.
It’s worth noting that any upgrades should be tested long before your trip. Assuming new parts will make everything run smoother is an avoidable mistake that could postpone your voyage.
3. New Yachters, Check your anchor.
Before you head out, it’s essential that you check your anchor and chain. It should be part of your launch checklist for sure, but it’s sometimes overlooked, which is why we’re listing it as its own tip.
The last thing you want is a tangled chain if you need to drop anchor quickly in an emergency, let alone if you just want to anchor somewhere nice during your voyage.
4. Keep an eye on the weather.
In addition to checking the local forecast, you’ll want to check it for your route and destinations.
Your captain and crew will likely take care of this for you, but it’s a good idea to get a weather report from them before you go.
If you’re going someplace tropical, such as Los Cabos, they’ll check the nautical almanac for regular storms that could churn the seas and make for rougher sailing.
The crew will also look at wind strength and GIS-based webmap services like NOAA’s nowCOAST, which provide updated weather and ocean observations for both coastal and marine weather forecasts 24 hours a day.
5. Follow the guidelines for capacity.
It’s always fun to be able to take your family and friends on a vacation, but yachts have a capacity limit for a reason. If you fail to follow these, you could end up with an overloaded sea craft. Rather than leaving someone out, just plan for two trips. You’ll double your fun in a way that keeps everyone safe.
6. Dress appropriately.
New yachters are often surprised by how quickly the weather can change from shore to sea. Rather than fumbling to try to locate a change of clothes, dress in layers that you can remove if things get warm later in the day. Wear nonslip shoes to avoid an accident on the dock or deck and advise your passengers to do the same.
If you plan to do any deep-sea fishing on your trip, be sure to pack breathable clothes with UPF protection that you don’t mind getting dirty. Choose waterproof, stain-resistant fishing clothes to be prepared for a mix of saltwater, blood, and/or fish slime.
7. Prep away from the launch ramp.
No one wants to be the person holding up other boaters at launch. By doing your pre-launch prep before you launch, you’ll either catch a smaller mistake before it grows into something dangerous, or give yourself a chance of a smooth start like a pro! Either way, it’s a win-win.
8. Review everything with your passengers.
In addition to speaking to any crew before you launch, it’s also beneficial to talk to your passengers. Explaining what to expect from launch to docking is a fun way to keep everyone included and comfortable.
But it’s also important to discuss worst-case scenarios so everyone knows what to do in case of minor inconveniences to major emergencies. Cover things like the location of the first aid kit and seasickness tablets to what to do if someone goes overboard, where the life preservers are located and how to use the radios to call for help on an international distress channel.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to safety procedures.
9. Confirm your arrival time with your point of contact.
If your entire family is headed out for a voyage, it’s best to ensure that someone else knows where you’re going and when you’ll return—or at least when you’ll arrive at your destination.
Besides keeping an off-ship contact in the loop regarding your trip and arrival for safety, there are also practical reasons for doing so that can improve your post-debarking experience.
For residents of luxury resort properties or marina-front homes, for example, you can reach out to a private concierge to request that your villa be prepared before you arrive. Call the private concierge with a grocery list to arrive home to a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator, to have housekeeping make the beds with fresh linens, or even to give a chef a head’s up to prepare a meal around any catch of the day you can boast from your time on the ocean.
Shopping for a second (or third) home with a slip for your yacht just steps from your back door? Costa Palmas Marina Village offers a semi-private port with your own slip for two sail boats or yachts up to 250 feet long. The Marina Village is a cosmopolitan hub for yachting elites who want a seaside residence, upscale restaurants, and boutique shopping all in one secluded resort.